PBOT gets federal grant to replace bridge in St. Johns

Map from North Burgard Road Bridge
Bridge Replacement Feasibility Study (PBOT, 2020)

The Burgard Bridge on Portland’s northern peninsula will be replaced thanks to a federal grant. And the project will come with a major upgrade for bicycle riders headed toward Kelley Point Park, Smith & Bybee Lakes, and other destinations on the 40-Mile Loop.

Last week the Biden Administration announced that the City of Portland won a $13.9 million grant that will pay for the project. The funds were part of a $300 million investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law via the Federal Highway Administration’s Bridge Investment Program. PBOT’s Fixing Our Streets program (local gas tax) will add $3.8 million in matching funds.

We first reported on this bridge replacement in 2020 when it came up at a PBOT Freight Advisory Committee meeting. In 2022 when we shared how this project was on a PBOT list for possible federal funding, a PBOT project manager said, “This bridge is probably the most ripe one for infrastructure bill funding if that comes through.”

Well, it did. And it is!

The current Burgard Bridge is on North Lombard just northwest of Pier Park. The 92-year-old viaduct goes over a Union Pacific Railroad line and is considered vulnerable to an earthquake. It’s also a key connection for major freight haulers as the bridge is just a stones-throw from major container shipping companies and many heavy industrial businesses along the Willamette River.

Cross-section as shown in the 2020 Feasibility Report.

The planned cross-section for the new bridge includes a two-way protected bike lane at sidewalk level on the east side and 8-foot sidewalks on both sides.

“This project will not only help to connect businesses and travelers, but will also help encourage alternative, low-carbon forms of transportation by adding bike lanes and sidewalks to the bridge,” said Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley in a statement last week.

“This investment will provide access for freight to some crucial industrial areas, and provide a safer route for biking and walking on a major corridor in the St. Johns neighborhood. With a seismic upgrade, this bridge will benefit Portlanders and our entire region for generations to come,” added Interim PBOT Director Tara Wasiak.

Stay tuned for opportunities to weigh in on the design, a more detailed timeline, and possible detour notices as construction begins.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Atreus
Atreus
1 year ago

Nice! This is part of my frequent cycling loop up to Kelley Point, and it’s been a weak link in an otherwise great bike route. The bridge got damaged at some point in recent years and ever since, bikes have had to go up onto the sidewalk. It’s kind of a mess and glad it will be replaced.

Pockets the Coyote
Pockets the Coyote
1 year ago

Has there been any word if the old bridge will be demolished upon completion of this one? If so, perhaps Bridge Ave on the West side could be modified slightly and the bridge area could be turned into a fully car free connection, maintaining it for continued, albeit more limited, use could be a productive way to maintain support of the replacement, it is quite the landmark and I would expect there to be a lot of push back when the time comes to remove it.

Atreus
Atreus
1 year ago

This article is about a completely different bridge, it’s not the St Johns Bridge which is not going to be replaced anytime soon. It’s a different bridge in the St Johns neighborhood. It’s on Lombard north of Pier Park.

Pockets the Coyote
Pockets the Coyote
1 year ago
Reply to  Atreus

So it is, I was certainly confused thinking that the current bridge crosses the Willamette.

JG
JG
1 year ago

On a somewhat related note, how does the Rivergate bridge fit into larger plans in this area? It’s a nice cycling bridge to nowhere right now.

Atreus
Atreus
1 year ago
Reply to  JG

New bridge across the Willamette River to Highway 30 on the other side of that bridge is being talked about in a long-range study that Metro is doing. If that ever happens, it will be a great route to Sauvie Island.

maxD
maxD
1 year ago
Reply to  JG

I think the bike facilities on Rivergate are predominately for the employment centers (Schnitzer, Del Monte, Chen Import) to connect to the MUP along Lombard. A popular route is Willamette blvd to Lombard/Columbia Blvd MUP past Kelley Point to Smitch Bybee. Rivergate adds a pleasant detour (on the weekend, I wouldn’t recommend during the week). The detour is Time Oil Road (a private road) to Rivergate Blvd. Its a little longer, but you can skip the awkward Burgard/Columbia intersection and filthy bike lanes on the bridge of the RR tracks

Atreus
Atreus
1 year ago
Reply to  maxD

That’s what I’ve started doing too! On the weekend the Rivergate and Time Oil Road loop is nice and quiet and avoids the worst bridge on that section.

Joe Adamski
Joe Adamski
1 year ago

As much as the Burgard Bridge, the rrailroad overpass bridges on Willamette and Lombard are important and in need of upgrade or replacement. Both are in sorry state. I believe the Lombard bridge ”belongs” to the State as part of the US30 bypsass, the Willamette Blvd bridge belongs to Union Pacific RR. My bet is unless the bridge crumbles on the tracks below, UPRR will sit on their hands.

Atreus
Atreus
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Adamski

All three bridges over the railroad cut (Willamette, Lombard, and Fessenden) actually belong to BNSF railroad.